We are passionate about and support Texas Agriculture. We are proud of our agricultural roots. From raising livestock to farming, we are involved in the process from start to finish. We both grew up in families heavily involved in agriculture. From farming crops like corn and hay, to raising cattle, poultry and sheep/goats. For most farmers and ranchers today, it’s hard work with little pay. For our families it was not enough to be the main source of income but, a second or third job for our parents. Naturally helping with the work led to our involvement in FFA and 4-H and then to showing various animals in middle school and high school. Looking back on those years, I can honestly say that my participation in those events set the foundation for who I am and what I am passionate about today!
Showing livestock is a much different endeavor than any other school activity. It requires help and support from the student’s parents, Ag. teachers, and county agents. It all starts with with the purchase of an animal, unless you already have a breeding operation and raise them yourself from a young age. Show animals require special feeding regimens, exercise programs and housing to keep them in great shape. I would compare show animals to elite athletes. They get extra attention, daily to make sure they are in the best shape possible. When the time comes to show them at your county or a major show, like the San Antonio Livestock Show, normally it’s a one time shot. The animals are judged based on body composition including amount of muscle, finish (fat) and overall production capabilities. There are no guarantees in livestock showing. If the animal gets sick or hurts themselves there is no refund. You either place, make the sale, and are rewarded for the efforts; or you do not place and the animal you have worked with and cared for the last 12 months is sold for market price (about a tenth of what you would get if you had made the sale). There are not consolation ribbons or trophies. It all comes down to one person’s opinion on that day and there is no replay or arguing the call. Livestock showing requires a full commitment, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and can be heartbreaking at the end of it all, but it’s just as rewarding too. The lessons learned while showing livestock are real life lessons:
• Sometimes you can do everything right, but someone else is just better.
• Sometimes you can do everything right, but the person with the final decision disagrees.
• Caring for another living thing requires patience, love, and in the end, you may get your heartbroken but you do it anyway.
• Work hard every day and it will pay off on show day.
• Having a good support system is invaluable.
I have spent 38 hours the last three days volunteering to help put on the Market Lamb and Goat show at the San Antonio Livestock Show. I saw tears of frustration, sadness and heartbreak but, I also saw smiles, handshakes and hugs. The reason I have been coming back for 12 years now to do this is that I know each one of those are lessons learned and memories made.